Tommy loves Lily. Wishes he could spend more time with her, even when he does spend time with her. Lily loves Tommy. Wishes she could spend more time with him, even when she does. Lily frequently phases in and out of reality. Like a soap bubble popping, ceasing to be.
It is hard to carry on a relationship over parallel dimensions. It is hard on them.
Tommy might be holding Lily’s hand, when she disappears. There is a smooth hard sound, like that of a heavy lock being turned and a faint smell, like charcoal, like wet leaves. Tommy stands alone on the street, sits alone in the restaurant, lies alone in the bed; he looks surprised, embarrassed, bereft.
He might be about to say something about dinner or the colour of a cloud, when she disappears. He might be about to say something poetic; tell her she is beautiful; ask her to marry him. But Tommy never speaks his heart, because at any moment she could disappear and he would be speaking to the air.
They can go on like that for years, those two. An itch they cannot scratch. A love they cannot ignite. Each waits for the other; waits to reappear to the other. And what if, one day, they do not return? What if Lily does not pop back into being from wherever she’s been?
Tommy could wait like that, wait and worry, until he grows old, bitter, both. He could wait and then stop waiting, meet somebody else, until Lily reappears and derails his life or doesn’t. He could live like that, with a cloud over him, shaped like Lily, like a cut-out of her, until he dies.
Lily could fear for her sanity, fear for his. She could gnaw at herself with guilt, curse fate, for dividing her between time and space. She could pull at him or push him away, hate herself, hate him for the guilt she feels about coming and going as she does.
But they do not do that. Tommy waits. Lily appears. They smile. And whether or not they are in the same dimension, they love one another. They love one another.